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Sat, May
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Regional Covid-19 report exposes economic disadvantage


Áine Ryan

OVER half (58.1 percent) of Westport’s businesses stand to be adversely affected by the Covid-19 economic fallout. Other Mayo towns, such as Castlebar and Ballina, are also set to experience a ‘disproportionate’ fall-out from the dramatic economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
These revelations are contained in a new report entitled ‘Covid-19 Regional Economic Analysis’, which shows the west as recording the highest ‘Covid-19 exposure ratio’, with 49.5 percent of its commercial units operating in those sectors most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.
The analysis was led by the Regional Assemblies of Ireland economist John Daly. It used a GeoDirectory commercial database and NACE codes (the European classification, Nomenclature of Economic Activities) allocated to commercial units for the purposes of the study, whilst excluding all essential businesses, which have been allowed to remain open.  
Among counties, the results showed Kerry to have the highest exposure at 53.8 percent. Co Mayo, at 49.7 percent, was surprisingly further down the list in ninth place, with Westmeath, Donegal, Cavan, Clare, Wexford, Meath and Longford all within the above margins.    
“Exposure is generally lower in more urban-based counties, as such counties rely more on economic activities that are capable of operating remotely; namely activities such as finance, ICT and professional and technical services,” the report states.  
Thus, unsurprisingly, the county with the lowest Covid-19 exposure ratio was Dublin, with 39.4 percent of its commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected, followed by Cork at 44.4 percent, Carlow at 44.7 percent, Waterford at 45.8 percent and Wicklow at 46 percent.
The NACE businesses not deemed as essential and included in the study are construction, wholesale and retail, accommodation and food, arts, entertainment and recreation, hairdressing and beauty, as well as child day care.
Interestingly, based on relative demographics, Westport businesses show a 58.1 percent exposure to Covid-19 fallout, with 276 units likely to be worst affected. The north Connemara town of Clifden also shows the same statistic, but because of its smaller population less units (122) are adversely affected.

Regional disadvantage   
DIRECTOR for the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, David Minton said: “Having been considered one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union in recent years, the Irish economic landscape has profoundly changed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.”  
Moreover, the Cathaoirleach of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly Galway, Cllr Declan McDonnell, said that the ‘degree of exposure varies for each of the regions across Ireland’, with the west recording the highest impact, thus compounding the already existing disadvantage.  
“What this tells us is that the recovery may not be even and that our companies need support. Key towns like Westport, Castlebar and Ballina will be disproportionally impacted,” he said.
Economist John Daly explained that the report is designed to inform future decision making. “The purpose of this report is to inform policymakers at a local, regional and national level of the extent of economic exposure and resilience across Ireland,” he said.